Thursday, December 20, 2012

Clipboards Galore!

If there was ever a time where clipboards could be considered a trend it would be NOW. There are so many uses for clipboards in your classroom.

And they are cheap, cheap, cheap! You can get them at most places for a dollar. They come in a standard 8 1/2 x 11 and a mini version at most stores.

Here are my top 5 favorite things to do with clipboards!
(in no particular order)

1. A clipboard countdown

This site comes with free printables and a tutorial for the clipboard and the countdown numbers!

2. A classroom clock out clipboard

I fully support teaching children to read an analog clock but when it comes to having children sign in and out of the classroom they waste a lot of time staring up at that clock to figure out what time it is when they leave and come back. This clipboard solves it all - the digital time is right on the clipboard. 
At $13.29 this clipboard is a bit pricey. I'm sure you creative teachers out there can come up with a homemade solution ;) 

3. A way to display student work!

No more staples and pins. Just clip them on and clip them off!

4. Chalkboard clipboards!!!!

I love it when students have their own dry erase boards to participate in class with. But guess what..the boards are expensive or they are too cheap and get dirty and smudgy! The markers dry out wayyyyy too soon or the kids write so hard with them that the marker part disappears. So how about making a class set of chalkboards out of clipboards. Students can keep a few pieces of chalk at their desk. I imagine that is a much cheaper solution. Students can still use the board to clip papers on when doing work around the room. A multi-purpose board!

5. Gifts for teachers and friends

Get some scrapbook paper mod podge and you are in business!

If you are a teacher or a sub today is probably your last day until Winter Break. Congrats! You made it to 4:00! Enjoy your break and take these ideas with you!

My Substitute Teacher Behavior Plan

Coming into a classroom as a sub can be very scary. You don't know the type of group you are going to have. You don't know what the teacher's behavior plan is. You don't know if they have one at all! I have created a plan that starts from the moment the students enter your room until the moment they leave at the end of the day. So far it has worked wonderfully.

1. Get yourself some name tags. Walmart sells 50 in a pack for about a dollar. They are sticky so the children can stick them right on their shirts where you can see them.

It makes a day so much easier to be able to call a child by their name no matter where they are in the classroom. The first thing I do when I walk in a classroom is make the tags before the kids come in the room. It makes passing them out so much easier and its a simple way to take attendance...the tags you have left are your absent kids. You will waste a few tags here and there. Keep them for the day in case those kiddos come in late.

2. Tell students they must keep them on all day. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Here is where the behavior plan comes into play. I found that the moment a corner of the name sticker came off a child's shirt it drove them nuts and they voluntarily ripped it off and it was in the trash. This made it so I had no idea what the child's name was and had to waste more name tags. At the beginning of the day this is my speech to solve it all:
"Since you all have to remember one name (mine) and I have to remember all of yours I will be giving you these name tags. You must keep it on all day and where I can see it. At the end of the day I will be checking you before dismissal. If you still have it on AND you were well behaved you will get a reward. Depending on how good you are will depend on the size of your reward. If you aren't wearing your name tag at the end of the day, you will get nothing, no matter how well behaved you were."
Now the end of this may sound harsh but it works. Their eyes will light up at the chance at a reward and they are excited about the challenge to keep their name tag on all day. It gives them something they need to be responsible for and they have to be accountable. No tag = no reward.

3. My rewards. I stocked up on stickers, bookmarks, pencils, erasers...all sorts of goodies at Target, Goodwill, and the dollar store. Trust me the small price you will pay for all of these goodies pays off when you have mostly hassle free days as a sub. You can decide what are the big rewards and what are the small rewards.

4. Remind the students often throughout the day although they are all pretty good about remembering when a reward is at stake. I never tell the students what the rewards are that they are working toward. It keeps their day mysterious. You don't want to risk having a student say "I have to be good for WHAT? a sticker?! Forget it!!!!" Good luck to you keeping that class tamed!!!

Easy Time Fillers

Situation: You are in class and your students have finished their work and it is too early to start the next subject but you have nothing else for them to do. They are starting to become noisy and rowdy. You don't want a teacher or the principal to walk by your classroom and think you can't handle the classroom.

Solution: Easy time fillers that need little to no preparation.
1. Have students clean out their desks. Students desks will always need some straightening up and students are thrilled to be given time to do so.
2. Have students read quietly in their seats. Find a nice part of the room where you think a child would like to read and tell the class you will be looking for the quietest reader to sit there. You will be amazed at how quiet a room can get.
3. Give students a writing prompt. Give students a writing prompt. Simply write it on the board. It can have to do with what they are learning about, the season, or an upcoming holiday. I find students really enjoy ones they have to complete like "It was a snow day, we were sledding down the icy hill when all of a sudden...." Let students know the best workers will be able to share their work and you are guarenteed a quiet classroom.

These are just a few easy time fillers I have used in the classroom in every grade. It helps give you 15-20 minutes of quiet especially if you need time to set anything up for the following lessons.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Book Review

I recently posted about this book in a prior post.
I have been reading and highlighting, reading and highlighting every minute I've been free. I have about 4 chapters left but I couldn't wait to finish it to tell you how wonderful I think this book is. This book has insider tips, example answers to challenging interview questions, and provides the ins and outs of all kinds of interview structures and procedures.

Three things I have learned so far from this book:
1. In previous interviews, I wasn't answering questions with a student centered focus. I was just trying to impress the interviewer and hoping they would like me. 
2. Administrators and principals are not interviewing you to see if they like you to put you in their school. They are looking for the perfect fit to educate their students. 
3. My answers to questions in interviews were too short in my attempt not to ramble. 

I think any teacher trying to get a job in this tough market can walk away learning something from this book. (The author of this book has no idea who I am, I just really enjoyed learning so much and wanted to share!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Putting Students Into Groups

I was subbing and saw these on the teacher's desk. Brilliant. These grouping pencils have so many different ways to group students - from color of pencil, number, and shapes on the pencil's eraser. I did some googling and found them here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Classroom Full of Ideas

I subbed in a 2nd grade classroom this week and I fell in love with everything about this classroom. You can tell a lot about each teacher of the classroom you visit. I could tell this teacher was organized and created, shared, and used wonderful ideas to benefit her students. I took some pictures of some things I want to include in my future classroom.

Let's start from the moment I sat at the teacher's desk. The pink paper in the picture was a laminated piece of paper labeled "Substitute's Procedures". This gave me an idea of how an average day goes with key pieces of information. She answered questions I had such as, "Do I pick the kids up from recess?" and "What is her behavior plan?" 

 Her lesson plans were impeccable I could tell these were her daily plans not just ones for the sub but they were so detailed I could follow them with out a problem. I noticed something on the top of her typed lesson plans that the template was from 
I searched and this is a snip from their main page with the pros of using their site:
And it's only $12/year. Seems pretty reasonable! ( has no idea who I am I just really love this idea)

Moving on....

Behind her desk were bins label by each subject. In each bin held manuals, textbooks, and all the work for that day/week. This was a very accessible feature in the room and it prevents you from just having things pile up. Piles = yuck!!!


These drawers hold all the manipulatives that the children will need during math (base 10 blocks, coins, rulers, shapes, etc.) Instead of having a huge stash you need to distribute they have been per-distributed in each drawer. Each drawer is assigned a number and each child has an assigned number. This saves a lot of instructional time and there are no arguments because every child has their own stash and it is all labeled with THEIR number.

This is inside one of the drawers:

So great right?!

The final gem I will share is this table/shelf/podium on wheels. In most classrooms, instead of fumbling with workbooks and teacher's manuals I place them on a nearby table or projector. Two problems: 1. a table isn't movable and causes you to have to sit so you are close enough to see the print. 2. less and less classrooms have projectors and they are clunky. This table/desk hybrid was easy to lean on and place everything I needed. I was able to teach a lesson using base-10 blocks very easily and I could move around the room with all of my materials.

On days like this subbing really has it's benefits!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Closet Organization

I was searching around for some organizational ideas when I came across this. I was drawn to the organization tags.
These were made from a CD label template and glued to cardboard much like one from a cereal box. I loved the idea but wanted to change it up a bit. Instead of labeling my tags by day I wanted to label them by the type of garment (cardigan, shirts, dresses...). That is how I have my closet arranged already and I knew this would make searching through my closet that much easier. So I began crafting.

It was a little time consuming. I spent a long time trying to decide how I wanted to design my tags. This was well worth it. It will take less time finding clothes in the morning as well as less time keeping my closet organized when putting laundry away.

Helpful Tips:
~ I used Microsoft Word and opened a template for a CD label.
~ I found my own designs I wanted and saved them to my computer and inserted them as a picture onto the labels.
~ I printed on regular printer paper.
~ I cut a slit in the bottom to get it to fit over the bar.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Commonly Asked Interview Questions For Teachers

 Preparing for an interview can be a task among itself and sometimes more stressful than the actual interview. Here are some commonly asked interview questions.

Getting to know you:
Why did you choose this profession as a career?
What makes you the best candidate for this position?
What research have you done about our school?
Describe a personal experience which had an impact on your teaching?
What are your interests outside teaching?
What would you like us to know about you?
Interpersonal Skills:
If I spoke with your students, cooperating teacher, university supervisor, principal, colleagues, or friends, what three words would they use to describe you?
How would you facilitate collaboration between home and school?
If confronted by an angry parent (colleague) on an issue, how would you respond?
How would your students know that you genuinely care about them?
How important is it for you to be well liked by your students?
How would you respond to a student who asked you for your advice on a difficult personal situation?
Describe a typical class period.
What instructional strategies have you found most effective?
What are the components of an effective lesson plan?
Describe a lesson which was particularly successful by walking me through each stage from planning through delivery.
Explain what a strong balanced literary program would look like in your classroom.
What research-based teaching strategies have you used?
What specific strategies would you use to assist students who are struggling in reading and math?
Describe how you have differentiated a lesson to accommodate varying student needs?
What would you do to actively engage your students?
What do you do when you see some students are not learning?
How would you motivate the reluctant learner?
What would you do with students who fail continually to complete homework?
How do you measure student success?
What would you do to improve student achievement?
How do you know whether your curriculum is appropriately matched to your students’ needs?
Classroom Management
What type of classroom management plan would you implement?
How would you set up a student management system?
How do you handle children who are difficult to manage?
Describe the toughest discipline situation you encountered and how you handled it.
If you were having classroom management difficulties, when and who would you ask for help?
During your student teaching experience what did you find most challenging?
Describe a time that you were in a difficult situation and explain how you resolved it?
If you were doing something for students that you knew was right and your principal told you to stop, what would you do?
Tell me a story from your experience that keeps you up at night.
Describe in detail your best and worst days in a classroom.
Describe the best lesson you ever taught and explain why it was great.
Describe a challenge you encountered during student teaching. What did you learn from it?
What are your long term goals?
What new ideas would you bring to our school?
Give an example of a time you went above and beyond to accomplish a task.
What does loyalty mean to you?
Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you were hoping I would?
Questions to ask:
Do you provide a mentoring program?
How does the school district support professional development?
How are parents involved in the school?

December is here!

It's the most wonderful time of the year. A time when no one should be in a bad mood. Here are some things I'm happy about for December.

1. Christmas Decorations. I found so many cute things at the dollar store!

2. Holiday Drinks. This Gingerbread Cookie Martini is from Outback Steakhouse. I also love a good Starbuck's Peppermint Mocha.

3. Holiday Nails. I found this cute Christmas sweater print at Five Below. This is the Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips. They can normally run anywhere from $8-$12 dollars a box depending on where you go but at Five Below I got it for well, below $5. Instead of doing all my nails I just did my ring finger. That way the box will last me through December. (That great saving tip was given to me by my best friend, Rachael)

4. Deals, Deals, Deals. I got these Target Merona Flats brand spankin new at Goodwill for $8.

Starbucks currently has a promotion if you buy 5 of their delicious holiday drinks you will get one free in January.